Harry Duncan’s Roots and Rhythms Series returns to Amoeba SF Saturday Oct. 27 from 2-5 p.m. To hear a sample of the music Duncan spins, listen to In The Soul Kitchen with DJ Harry Duncan on KUSF In Exile Tuesdays from 7 to 9 p.m. Listen to past shows here.
This Saturday’s show will include a rare appearance by legendary poet and activist John Sinclair. Sinclair was once the manager of Detroit proto-punks MC5 and lead anti-racist and pro-marijuana efforts in the 1960s. He was imprisoned in 1969 for the possession of two joints of marijuana, which spawned the John Sinclair Freedom Rally in Ann Arbor, Mich. in 1971, which featured John Lennon, Yoko Ono, Allen Ginsberg, Abbie Hoffman and another of other luminaries from the time. He was soon after released, and the Michigan Supreme Court ruled the state’s marijuana law was unconstitutional. He was charged with two others in the 1972 Supreme Court case United States v. U.S. District Court, which upheld that warrantless domestic wiretaps were illegal.
Sinclair is now based in Amsterdam, where he continues to write and record poetry, which is often accompanied by blues, jazz and rock musicians. He hosts a radio show at RadioFreeAmsterdam.com where he plays jazz, blues, R&B and other music, and maintains a blog, Fattening Blogs For Snakes. I caught up with Sinclair over the phone as he was working on a documentary in Healdsburg, Calif.
As for me, my number one pick of the Record Store Day 2012 releases is (drumroll, please):
The Mynah Birds
"It's My Time" b/w "Go On and Cry"
How about a little oldies for your soul courtesy of Messrs Rick James (before he was Rick James, bitch) and Neil Young (way before the Harvest) recorded circa 1966 only to be shelved indefinitely by Motown due to James AWOL U.S. Navy status and subsequent arrest. The remaining Mynah Birds went on to found Buffalo Springfield and play in Steppenwolf. All that rock 'n' roll history aside, this solid single made by some young dudes before superstardom carved them anew is a must have for my collection. Oh, yes - it will be mine!
MC5 in 1967 featuring on bass Michael Davis who passed on Friday
Michael Davis, who was bassist in the influential and heavily politicized, proto-punk Detroit band the MC5 and later played with Destroy All Monsters as well as other bands, died on Friday (Feb 17th, 2012) as a result of liver failure. He was 68. After dropping out of art school, he joined the MC5 in 1964 and played on all three of the band's original albums -- High Time (1971), Back In The USA (1970), and their controversial debut Kick Out the Jams (1969). So controversial was that album that a large hometown department store (Hudson's) refused to stock the major label release due, they stated, to its "obscenity" (those infamous lyrics "kick out the jams motherfuckers"). Never ones to allow an opportunity to make a political statement pass by, the MC5 took out a full page advertisement in the Fifth Estate writing "Stick Alive with the MC5, and Fuck Hudson's!" Hudson's in turn responded by pulling off their shelves all of Elektra Records' releases (MC5's label whose logo they had prominently included in their ad). This did not sit well with Elektra who then dropped the band from their label.
Crime was formed in 1976 by Johnny Strike, Frankie Fix, Ron "The Ripper" Greco (ex-Chosen Few/Flamin' Groovies), and Ricky James. They ripped post-hippie San Francisco a metaphorical new one when they released their first (and many say Punk’s first) single “Hot Wire My Heart / Baby You're So Repulsive.” There was no mistaking these guys for mere rockers; they mixed a rebellious and sexually-charged image (they were most often seen flaunting their vampiric, just-outta-rehab good looks in tight leather, regulation police uniforms, or old-time gangster duds) with their unique blend of intellectual and furious lo-fi rock and roll. Crime found local refuge at the now legendary Mabuhay Gardens, but became nationally notorious after playing a gig at San Quentin Penitentiary in full police uniforms (of course).
In 1977 Hank Rank joined the ranks, but left in 1979. The band split in 1982 when Strike quit Crime to focus on writing. Frankie Fix attempted a Crime reunion in the early 90’s, but Strike elected not join in. In 1996 Frankie Fix passed away.